Q. We now have two children in summer sports activities and I’m struggling with quick and nutritious meal ideas. Do you have any suggestions?
A. Some days are too busy for even a 30-minute meal; having super-easy meal ideas in your weekly plan is key to keeping your family away from the trap of dashboard dining. Try these five super-easy dinner ideas.
1. Veggie & Cheese Quesadillas (serves 4)
Total time: 18 minutes
Spread tomato paste mixed with minced garlic on top of two large tortillas. Sprinkle on shredded cheese, chopped veggies, salad greens, then top with another large tortilla. Heat in a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat, flipping halfway through until each side is golden brown. Repeat for the second tortilla. Each quesadilla serves two. Round out your meal with fresh fruit and milk.
2. Chicken Burrito Bowls (serves 4)
Total time: 23 minutes
Grill 1 lb. chicken breasts to an internal temperature of 165 F. While the chicken is cooking, cook 1- cup instant brown rice. Drain and rinse a 15-ounce can of black beans, heat in the microwave or on the stovetop. To prepare the burrito bowls, divide cooked rice, black beans, grilled chicken and desired toppings such as salsa, guacamole and shredded cheese. Tip: For an even quicker meal, use shredded meat from a rotisserie chicken. These make a great meal on the go (or picnic).
3. Open-faced Tuna Melt (serves 4)
Total time: 12 minutes
Make your favorite tuna salad recipe using two cans of tuna. Divide the tuna salad among four slices of whole grain bread. Top each open sandwich with a slice of your favorite cheese. Place the open-faced sandwiches on a baking sheet and put in the oven on the second-from-the-top shelf. Broil for about 5 minutes with the oven door cracked open a couple of inches. Watch it closely and remove from the oven when cheese is melted and light brown. Toss together a side salad with your favorite dressing for your veggie option.
4. Panzanella Salad with (or without) Chicken (serves 4)
Total time: 15 minutes
In a large bowl, combine 1 pint of fresh cherry tomatoes, 1 diced cucumber, a 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans, rinsed, an 8-ounce can of sliced black olives, 1 bunch of green onions, diced, 2 cups of already prepared croutons and 1/3 cup of balsamic, Italian or oil-based salad dressing. To add more protein, dice 2 cups of rotisserie chicken and add to the vegetable mix. Fold all ingredients together and serve.
5. Lentil Pasta with Marinara Sauce & Spinach (serves 4)
Total time: 22 minutes
Cook a box of lentil pasta according to the directions on the box and drain. Return the pasta back to the pot and heat on low. Add a jar of marinara sauce and a couple handfuls of raw spinach to the past and fold ingredients together until heated through. Serve with a fresh slice of baguette.